In The Footsteps of Our Fathers-4: Multiformity
September 9, 1943
What are we to think about the multiformity of the church?
* Note: multiformity is in contrast to uniformity. Uniformity being an undivided church (denomination), and multiformity meaning many churches (denominations).
This is a question that give us significant insight into Kersten’s view of “other” denominations. Kersten begins with a reflection on Dordrecht, insisting that they were “one in confession, but not in form” (19). In other words, there were different flavors of reformed nationalities present, along with slightly different forms of ecclesiastical apparati, but this “multiformity did not prevent the united rejection of the Remonstants’ case and the preservation of God’s Word”(19). He goes on to say that, “it becomes somewhat different when they begin speaking about the multiformity of the church in one country. There, the church ought to be one, also in her revelation” (19). Kersten goes on to argue that the presence of many different denominations in one country is the result of sin. Does this mean that Kersten held to some form of the Establishment Principle (one country, one Church?). Interesting.
“Some say that their church is the only true church. But this is the vain exclamation, ‘The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the the LORD, are these.’ Multiformity has now come into this world. Nevertheless, we must condemn it and grieve over it because of the sin that caused its existence” (20). I could not agree more with Kersten’s concluding words, ” May the Lord arise, as in the days of old, and reunite His church on the firm foundations of the time-honoured confession, according to His Word.”
As a good friend of mine often prays, “Lord, wilt Thou bring together those that belong together, and heal the breaches in the walls of the Church.” May it be so.